Don’t be evil? If that’s the unofficial Google motto, then the company has failed to deliver today. Among the products Google just announced it plans to sunset (read: kill off), beloved feed-reading service Google Reader is now on the chopping block.
“*$%#” wrote at least one TechCrunch staffer upon hearing the news. “What will feed my Reeder app,?” asks another. “Super sad,” says a third. “I AM SO MAD ABOUT THIS I WILL KILL,” screams a fourth.
These reactions will be echoed among a legion of Google Reader fans, and loudly, as the news spreads. And yes, many of them are bloggers and journalists – edge cases in our news consumption behaviors, I’ll admit, but
Google Reader never made it as a mainstream product, which is why Google is giving the ax. But allowing it to sit out there, neglected and abandoned yet still functional, was at least a comfort to this niche crowd, where Google Reader still serves as one of the company’s most-used apps of all time, right up there with Gmail.
We got a taste of what life without Reader was like in February, when the service became unusable for nearly two days. Feeds went haywire, showing old things as new and not respecting the “mark as read” functionality. Google eventually stepped in to fix the problem, and in the meantime, we had a chance to explore the alternative products out there. None of them were up to Google Reader quality, whether because they’re still an early stage startup, or because they’re older, desktop software tools with outdated interfaces.
I guess that’s good news for those early stage startups though. NewsBlur, here’s looking at you. Better go buy some more servers. (And hey, look guys, source code!) Also HiveMined, launch already. It’s been time. The Old Reader, get busy. Feedly, we’re ready. .
Google has been gradually destroying Google Reader for over a year now. In fall 2011, it announced it would remove the built in social integration and integrate the service with Google+. Hundreds of angry commenters posted their grievances at the time – including what seemed to be the entire online population of Iran, which had used Reader as an under-the-radar service – a way to get uncensored, unfiltered news outside of government control.
But that doesn’t matter to Google, which is now systematically shutting down products which don’t fulfill its core missions: search, social, ads. On these fronts, Google Reader just doesn’t deliver.
After all, who uses it but bloggers anyway, right? Bloggers who write 6,000 word+ tributes to Google Reader, explaining in detail not only everything that went wrong with the service over time, but how it eventually came to be steamrolled by Google+. Bloggers – oh and developers, too – who are now collectively pouring one out for you, Google Reader.
You were loved.
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Update: So Wrong, Yahoo, So Wrong –
— Yahoo!(@Yahoo) March 14, 2013